Chicano arts. Native American arts. African drumming. Latin dance. And spoken word. They’re all part of this year’s Multicultural Arts Camp presented by Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, which “uses artistic expression and creativity to heal abused and homeless children across the Valley.”
This year’s camp will serve 125 abused, homeless or at-risk youth, who’ll rotate through five workshops focused on multicultural and multidisciplinary arts as well as team-building activities. All are led by professional teaching artists — including Frank Thompson, Melanie Sainz, Christa Iceforest, Myrlin Hepworth and Misha Pemberton.
“Artists and workshops are purposefully chosen so that campers can experience arts from various cultures as well as various mediums,” according to Barbara DuVal Fenster, executive director for Free Arts. Think dance, music, visual arts and creative writing.
Two camp sessions are taking place at Desiderata Alternative High School in Phoenix. Both include breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day. This week’s camp, for 14-17 year olds, concludes with a June 8 showcase. Next week’s camp, for 9-13 year olds, wraps up with a showcase on June 15.
“In addition to our artists and volunteers, we invite a few teens from the first session to serve as volunteers for the second session,” says Fenster. “For them,” she says, ”it is a chance to move from camper to leader.” For the folks at Free Arts, it’s “an opportunity to watch young people grow, mature and build their self-esteem.”
Since 2001, the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix has worked with Free Arts to “heal young lives through the performing arts” by giving teens from group homes, shelters and treatment facilities throughout Maricopa County “the opportunity to create and experience the arts” through a two-week theater camp at the Herberger Theater Center.
During this year’s Summer Theater Camp, guest artists and volunteers will help children explore improvisation, character development, mask making, costumes, props and the technical side of theater production — then guide them in creating a production they’ll share during a final performance at the Herberger (Fri, June 29 at 7pm) that’s free and open to the public.
Coming up: Feeling like a million bucks